Hood County Texas Genealogical Society
HERMAN D. HOWARD
1926 - 1985
IN LIPAN HE’S KNOWN AS THE TELEPHONE MAN
Herman D. Howard is the
telephone company to residents of Lipan and Bluff Dale in Hood and Erath
Counties. Howard took a small
antiquated rural telephone cooperative and built it into one of the most
modern, if still small, telephone companies anywhere
Fort Worth Star Telegram
By Art von Reyn
most telephone company executives, the first task of the day is to get ready
for work. But, for Herman D. Howard,
the first task of the day is to get out and feed the cattle.
D. Howard is one of a diminishing breed…the independent telephone company
owner. Howard’s acquisition of an
antiquated rural telephone company operative in Lipan in the late 1950’s has
blossomed into one of the most modern, if still small, telephone companies in
addition to his telephone company and the 60 beef cows on his ranch, Howard
also owns the water system in Lipan.
And, most members of his family participate or have participated in his
involvement with telephones began in the early 1950’s when he was elected to
the board of directors of the telephone cooperative at Lipan. The Lipan Telephone Cooperative had served
Lipan and its rural environs since the early 1900’s with the subscribers
working a number of days each year to keep up the system and elect a five man
board of directors to oversee the operations.
the time of Howard’s election to the board, the telephone cooperative was in a
rather precarious state. Crank phones
were the only kind in use (the operator placed all calls), there were only 115
subscribers and just one long distance line -- to Granbury.
board of directors decided to make some improvements to the telephone
cooperative at that time. The
cooperative was incorporated in 1956 as the Lipan Telephone Company and 650
shares of stock priced at $10 each were placed on sale at the Lipan bank to
raise the needed capital for improvements.
the shares were not best sellers, and most remained at the bank.
says that with the encouragement of all but a few members of the community, he
borrowed $5,000 to buy 500 shares, making him majority owner of the Lipan
Telephone Company (Howard now owns all but four of the 650 shares) and putting
him in the telephone business.
was in the dry cleaning laundry then.
They just put me in as a director, and it seemed like no one else was
interested or wanted to fool with it,” Howard said.
Howard did fool with it. He began
borrowing more money for improvements and in 1960 or 1961 (he doesn’t remember
exactly), the big switch was made to dial telephones.
was really the big year for the Lipan Telephone Company. With low cost loans, Howard was able to have
all the telephone lines placed under ground, add direct long distance service,
and convert over to one party lines exclusively…a most enviable accomplishment
for any telephone company.
Lipan Telephone Company consists of two exchanges, one in Lipan and the other
in Bluff Dale, a small community southwest of Lipan. The total number of subscribers is 550, mostly in Hood County,
but also some in Parker, Palo Pinto, and Erath Counties.
said, “I never would have dreamed that we could have brought this thing up to
the kind of investment now (about $600,000)…I just enjoy anything I can start
out within the community and see an improvement.”
said he had received a number of offers from other companies to buy him out,
including one several years ago for $320,000.
But Howard apparently won’t see his telephone empire any time soon. Howard said, “If the kids want it, I’d
probably keep it.”
Among the company’s half dozen employees are Howard’s teenage daughter, Rhonda, who works after school as a bookkeeper, his 15 year old son John, who installs the telephones and runs the ditching machine, and his older brother Horace who serves as a supervisor. A Lipan resident, Emma Gene Conners serves as the full time secretary and bookkeeper. Others are occasionally employed on a contract basis.
said his wife of 20 years, Bobbie, used to be a part time operator and sole
bookkeeper, but she is now occupied with other things.
for the operator, Howard said his company hasn’t had one for some time, and
that the person answering “Lipan Operator” is actually in Fort Worth.
about the newly formed Texas Utilities Commission, Howard had a fairly
predictable answer: “I think the
Utilities Commission is a bunch of red tape and expense my customers will have
to pay for.”
said that his ownership of the Lipan Water Works came in 1954 when he bought
that company from an uncle. It now has
about 150 customers, mostly in or close around Lipan.
about his other accomplishments, Howard said that he organized the Lipan
Volunteer Fire Department, that he was a former mayor of Lipan, also a former
school board president. He is still on
the school board today.
the future for Howard??? Well…maybe the electric company!
D. Howard was born March 20, 1926, at Natty Flat in Palo Pinto County to
Robert Terry and Emma Mae (Compton) Howard.
He married Bobbie Haralson on January 26, 1957 in Lipan, Texas. He died on July 14, 1985, at Granbury,
Texas. He was buried in Evergreen
Cemetery at Lipan.